As a kid, Anthony LoCascio walked into the Stanford Dance Studio in Lindenwood with his cousin and discovered dance.
He immediately became fascinated with tap dance, something that would become a career for him, and take him across the country and around the world.
His professional dance career started in 1994, as a young and naive kid who had never left the country, when he performed in Monte Carlo.
Not only was it his first time away from home, but he spent his days opening shows for stars like Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, and Earth, Wind & Fire.
“Stevie Wonder was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met in my life,” LoCascio said. “I’ll never forget him telling me how cool it was for him to be there while we were tapping because he could visually hear us, even though he visually can’t see us.”
“The first time not being at home — that was a little crazy. Not only was I not at home, but I was not at home and outside of America.” But he was surrounded by great people like musical director Bill Fayne, who still stands out as one of the most important people in LoCascio’s life along with Joe Stanford and Stanford’s dance studio partner Michael Solivan.
When LoCascio returned to New York, he taught for five years at Steps Ahead in Ozone Park. In 1996, he auditioned for Tap Dogs, an Australian show choreographed by Dein Perry and directed by Nigel Triffitt, without sucess.
“I was too much of a teacher, so I was kind of helping the guys I was auditioning with rather than trying to beat the guys I was auditioning with, but that’s always been in my nature,” LoCascio explained. But the following year, he auditioned again and became the first American to be cast in a role in the show.
“Joining Tap Dogs was like joining a tap dance fraternity — a traveling tap dance fraternity,” he said. LoCascio performed in the Union Square Theater on Broadway, and his autographed poster still hangs on the theater’s wall, as he continues to perform around the world with the show.
“I just tap dance because I love it, because it’s fun, because it’s good energy and I’ve kind of fell into anything I’ve ever done,” LoCascio said. “It’s just something I do — I wasn’t looking to capitalize on it, I wasn’t looking to beat out other people or be the best, I wasn’t looking to get a job from someone else on Broadway — I just did it and kind of ended up here.”
LoCascio’s career has been a combination of performing and teaching, as he currently teaches at Broadway Dance Center in Manhattan and the studio Tip Tap Top in Elmont, LI.
“I love teaching — teaching is my addiction. When we do the show, we get anywhere from one to six standing ovations a night and that feels tremendous,” LoCascio said, but added, “When I teach, that’s for them, that’s for the people, that’s for the world, that’s for tap dance, that’s for giving back to what has given so much to me — my art form — so teaching means the world to me.”
He recently moved back to Queens after living in San Jose, Calif. for 15 years.
“I lived by Apple, Google, eBay, Tesla Motors. I watched Tesla Motors become Tesla Motors — by Berkeley, by Stanford University, about 45 minutes outside of San Francisco, by Facebook. I was in the heart of what I feel is one of the last great cities of America.”
While in California, LoCascio taught, but also become very engaged in technology, publishing articles about technology in dance.
“Dance studios are one of the last mom-and-pop industries left and I would like to use my knowledge of technology, and of dance and traveling in America, to make my apps eventually be the corporate entity for the dance studio industry without infringing on anyone’s individuality,” LoCascio said. “Technology should be part of our lives — technology shouldn’t define our lives.”
“I’d like to take the knowledge of all the last 15 years of performing, 35 years of being in the dance world and 41 years of my life, and take everything I’ve learned and apply that to doing something beautiful for something that I love, to something that’s given me such a beautiful life. ”
Traveling the world made LoCascio a much more spiritual person. When explaining his preparation for a solo performance piece, LoCascio said, “You’re sharing a piece of your soul — not because you’re up there dancing for them, but because when you pick certain songs, you pick them for a reason.”
He returned to Queens to spend time with his family, including his 94-year-old grandmother.
“I wanted to be with my parents right now — I didn’t get to be with them as much as I wanted when I was a kid and I wanted to bond with my parents again because of the superstorm.”
Tap Dogs also may return to New York, and LoCascio decided it was a good time to move back across the country.
He has performed on television, but described performing on stage as being more intense and focused on the love of the labor of what you do.
“When you do the show live, at the end of the hour and 20 minutes, people are absolutely electrified and they jump out of their seats and applaud for you,” he said. “The show is crazy — the show is awesome. It’s definitely one of the best tap shows — it changed tap dancing.” He added that performing in the show requires energy, stamina and camaraderie. “It’s like joining a tap dance fraternity, but it’s also like joining a tap dance foreign exchange program at the highest levels of ability.”
LoCascio said that he does not want to define himself only as a tap dancer, but it will continue to be a passion of his.
“Tap dancing at its most elite, most beautiful forms is a stream of consciousness and when it’s really working right, it’s a stream of consciousness between you and the audience, you between yourself, and you between other performers.”
He continued, “You can meet tap dancers all over the world — you’re connected immediately. It’s a very, very small circle. It’s a fun circle to be famous in because we’re all very, very nice and we’re all very, very good to each other and care about each other a lot.”